Sandbox tourism scheme generates over THB1 billion for Phuket economy
The Phuket "sandbox" programme drew over 19,000 foreign tourists and generated over THB1 billion in revenue for the province, Thanusak Pheungdet, president of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, said on Friday.
The sandbox scheme, which kicked off on July 1, aims to reopen Phuket to foreign visitors to rehabilitate the local tourism industry. Vaccinated tourists can fly into Phuket and move around freely in the province without having to quarantine. After spending 14 days in Phuket and if they still test negative, the tourists can then travel to other parts of Thailand.
“Thanks to comprehensive screening and disease control measures, we found only 50 infections among over 19,000 foreign visitors. They have been separated and treated properly to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the sandbox area,” he said.
“About 4,000 foreign tourists have gone home and around 15,000 are still staying in Phuket. They occupy 7,000 to 8,000 rooms and have generated more than THB1 billion in rotating revenue for local businesses.
“Entrepreneurs in Phuket are planning to host other activities to attract foreign visitors besides tourists, such as sport events, conventions and cultural events at the year-end. These events will also need strict screening measures to keep the visitors safe from Covid-19,” he said.
“As the Thai FDA has already approved the Sputnik V vaccine, we believe that more Russian tourists will visit the province at the year-end. Furthermore, the Embassy of Russia has agreed to donate 100,000 doses of Sputnik vaccine to Phuket, which will help make the sandbox programme even safer,” he added.
“Although Phuket’s tourism is gradually recovering, the chamber of commerce estimates that the country’s overall tourism industry will return to normal only by the end of 2022 or early 2023, due to the slow vaccine distribution, especially in 'dark red' provinces,” said Thanusak.